NEW YORK, NY (October 17, 2016):On August 9th, Athlete Ally, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and 25 national LGBT organizations submitted a letter to the Big 12 Conference and its member schools urging it not to consider Brigham Young University (BYU) as a potential new conference member due to its anti-LGBT policies. Today, the Big 12 decided that it was no longer expanding in the immediate future and staying as is.
BYU was long considered a front-runner and a lucrative addition to the Big 12, but after Athlete Ally, NCLR, and other’s efforts over the past two months, its discriminatory policies were brought to the surface, severely undermining BYU’s support and thus support for the expansion. BYU, a Utah school, is considered the sixth worst school for LGBT students in the nation, and its policies against the community are so severe that it’s been under investigation by the American Bar Association.
The Big 12 universities and their leadership have made an impactful decision that shows schools that discriminate against the LGBT community should not be awarded membership to a Power Five conference. The conference placed the safety and inclusion of their LGBT student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans over the economic and strategic gain to be made from expansion– and setting the tone for collegiate athletics.
Ashland Johnson, Athlete Ally’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, said: “The Big 12 just took a major step forward today. In a time where we are seeing leagues and conferences stand up for LGBT equality and the safety and inclusion of all of their fans, it’s extremely encouraging to see the Big 12 choose to expand equality, not discrimination.”
Helen Carroll, NCLR’s Sports Project Director, said: “This is a groundbreaking event and sends the message that LGBT discrimination has no place in sports. We commend the Big 12 for upholding their values of sportsmanship and inclusion.”
Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization that educates and activates athletic communities to champion LGBT equality. Athlete Ally works with MLB, MLS, the NBA, WNBA, and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. It also co-wrote Champions of Respect, the NCAA’s guide on LGBT policies and best practices. Athlete Ally also partners with over 150 professional athletes and college campuses to promote LGBT respect and inclusion.